MAYBE IT WAS METAPHYSICAL, MAYBE it was just the meat loaf. But something caused David Rensin to have an epiphany in January 1987 as he dined at a San Francisco Bay—area restaurant called SmorgaBob's. Rensin began to ruminate on the name Bob and the many ways Bobs enrich our lives. "I grew up with Bobs," says Rensin, 41, a senior editor at Playboy. "Bobs raised us. Captain Kangaroo was Bob Keeshan.... Buffalo Bob Smith was an icon to me.... Bob McAllister of Wonderama..." Was it just happenstance, or was there some special quality of Bobness lurking in all these warm, fuzzy memories?
To explore that cosmic question, Rensin and his friend Bill Zehme, 32, a senior writer at Rolling Stone, devised a survey that went out to 1,000 Bobs, both famous and obscure. The results begat The Bob Book, published this month. Culling the answers to such questions as Why I'm Bob? ("I wanted to be the first Bob President," Sen. Bob Dole responded) and What Being Bob Means ("A helluva lot more than Bubba," said Bob Goulet), the coauthors zeroed in on the essential Bob qualities: "Hardworking, un-flashy, calm and confident," says Zehme. As far as they know, no Bob has ever slept with Madonna
. "But if one has, we want to know about it," Zehme adds.
The publishers have printed 50,000 copies, a tribute to all the Bobs and wannaBobs out there.